John G. Tawresey, P.E., F.SEI, Dist.M.ASCE, former vice president and chief financial officer at KPFF Consulting Engineers, has been honored with inclusion in ASCE’s 2017 class of Distinguished Members for his eminence in risk management; pioneering research, testing, and development of new structural masonry systems; leadership improving the quality of engineering services and business practice for U.S. consulting firms; and contributions to engineering education.
The application of structural masonry to buildings has historically received too little attention in structural engineering education, codes and standards, and practice. Tawresey has trailblazed the research, testing, and development of new systems such as panelized, reinforced clay masonry, brick veneer / steel stud, thin stone, and metal-and-glass curtain walls. He has helped to bring engineering rigor to the application of such systems. He was one of the drivers behind the formation of The Masonry Society in the 1980s and has served in numerous positions and committees there since its inception.
Avoidance and management of project problems, claims, and lawsuits is a major challenge for the profession. Most of the risk management advice available to managers comes from lawyers and insurers. More than any other structural engineering leader, Tawresey has offered his sage advice in balance to this fact. He has been a leader in the Structural Engineers Management Council (SERMC). One of his particular innovations in this area is the organization of highly regarded claims case studies with lessons-learned at Structures Congresses.
Tawresey’s career includes over 35 years in leadership at KPFF. One of the largest structural engineering firms in the U.S., the company grew from 30 to 950 people under his leadership, gaining national recognition and universal admiration. A significant reason for this outstanding success was his unusual approach to corporate organization and strategy, employing lean corporate management and empowering very capable regional leaders. This model has served as an inspiration for others.
Tawresey has always been both a prolific contributor and a driving force behind major industry professional initiatives. He was one of the spearheads in the formation of ASCE’s Structural Engineering Institute. He served on SEI’s Board from 1998 to 2003 and was its president from 2001 to 2003. He is also unselfishly committed to educating the profession, having been an adjunct professor at the University of Washington since 1985 and very active in organizing tracks and sessions for SEI Congresses and ASCE Conventions. From 2003 to 2006 he worked on the Curriculum Committee of the ASCE Committee on Academic Prerequisites of Professional Practice, which did groundbreaking, important work in defining the educational needs of the next generation civil engineers.
He is a member of the ASCE Main Committee, the Building Seismic Safety Council, and others organizations. He has authored over 40 publications, papers, and articles, and engineered over 30 major cladding and masonry projects throughout the country.
Tawresey is a recipient of ASCE/SEI’s Dennis L. Tewksbury Award. Most recently he was given the President’s Award from The Masonry Society in 2013, and was made an Honorary Member in 2015.